To celebrate May the Fourth (Star Wars Day, for those of you who were unaware), the Black Milk Clothing fanpage posted this…
…which, understandably, bothered several fans due to the implication that being more like the woman on the left is somehow better or more desirable than being like the woman on the right (Mayim Bialik as Amy in "The Big Bang Theory"). It also happens to go against their own, arguably cult-like, "commandments". In particular:
COMMANDMENT #1 - YOU SHALL BE EXCELLENT TO ONE ANOTHER
COMMANDMENT #5 - YOU SHALL NOT MAKE CRITICAL COMMENTS ON OTHER WOMEN'S BODIES.
When some of the page's followers pointed out this contradiction of their own rules to Black Milk, their comments were either promptly deleted or met with condescending comments from the brand's social media team, which only served to gain more attention than the initial meme itself.
But Black Milk persisted, defending their right to "poke fun at themselves" – though no members of staff were featured in the meme - and stated that the people who had been offended by the post were a minority and admitted that they would continue to delete any comments that weren't "positive" enough. When this was, again, received negatively, they even went so far as to tell their own customers to unlike their page and to stop supporting them if they felt that this particular thread was out of line:
For many followers and long-time customers that had been watching from the sidelines, this was the final straw, and several decided to jump in and attempt to convince Black Milk of how terribly they were handling the situation...
After dozens of people were banned from the fan page (including several long-time customers that had helped to build the brand in the first place) and even more comments were deleted or unsatisfactorily responded to, many people took to the company's many regional fan groups to express their disappointment in the way the situation was being handled, leading to an array of hilarious memes and not-so-hilarious comments directed at the company, including some from media personalities and affiliates of Disney, with whom Black Milk have an upcoming licensing deal.
The above tweet linked to this video.
More than 24 hours after the initial image was posted, Black Milk Clothing finally decided to remove the thread, but would not back down when it came to an apology, stating the following:
Though it was a relief to see them finally give in and delete the post, rather than to continue their ban-and-delete spree, it left a bitter taste in the mouths of many – especially those who had been banned from the page without even commenting on the thread in the first place.
With thousands of customers feeling alienated and shrugged off by a company which they helped to build (and which has spent the past few years handling the social side of their company brilliantly, with many citing it as one of the best examples of online presence done right), many fans are now stating that they will no longer be supporting the brand. The amount of likes on the company's Facebook page has already dropped by several thousand.
How right they were.
Black Milk Clothing's head of sales and marketing, Cameron Parker, has issued an apology, stating "I want to start off by saying I am incredibly sorry for everything that has happened over the last couple of days. We made a mistake and we apologise sincerely."
Parker wrote out a five-point response outlining the company's views on the controversy, ending with "We stand up for what we believe in. People can have differences of opinions about what is right and wrong, right?"
You can read the full apology here.